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29 Jun 2006 : Column 476

I move on to amendment No. 115. This has been an extremely good-natured debate. I trust that I will be forgiven if I savour this moment and this amendment and what is going on over on the Opposition Benches. As of this morning, I have had two separate speeches ready for the amendment: one to accept it and one to reject it. I left Opposition Members to struggle out the issue between themselves, to see who could vie most for my attention.

The amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border would go rather further than the Government amendment. It would give the national authority discretion about whether to include a requirement for the owner’s consent in any particular order. I have listened with care to the arguments advanced by the right hon. Gentleman. He represents the interests of his constituents with great tenacity. He has written to me twice on these matters. The way in which he has presented his case, both in correspondence and orally today, does him great credit.

The right hon. Gentleman has made the trenchant point that severance of common rights in the hills of Cumbria is not a recent innovation. As is often the case in those parts, the rights have always been quantified. The law has always recognised that those rights may be severed. Were we to contemplate an order to permit continued severance in such areas, we would certainly want to have a discretion not to require the consent of the owner. That discretion is not available to us as the Bill stands.

We remain of the view that there should be a general prohibition on severance. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman has accepted that we are talking of exceptional circumstances. Should we be minded to make an order under paragraph (3) permitting severance in any locality, we should have a power to impose a condition requiring the consent of the owner to any particular act of severance. That will ensure that severance does not interfere with the proper management of common where the owner continues to take an active interest.

We believe that the Government’s amendments to paragraph (3) remain sensible and confer greater flexibility, but I am inclined to agree to the amendment of the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border.

Mr. Paice: The Minister is taking a constructive approach to these matters. I am sorry that we were not able to produce a clear answer to his confusion. It is unusual that a Minister comes to the House without a clear line. I think that he was coming to that when I rudely intervened on him. I look forward to what he has to say. Suffice it to say, whatever the conclusion of the Government and another place, that we all accept that there is an important role for the landowner, but it is right that there should be a power to ensure that it is not an absolute veto. There is not a great deal to be achieved either way.

Barry Gardiner: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, both for those remarks and for his note.

I commend the right hon. Member for Penrith and The Border on his legal skills. His amendment is of such a high standard that I am happy to accept it in its present form. If he decides not withdraw it, we would be pleased to add it to the Bill at this final hour. It is
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fitting, given that we have been considering arrangements for common lands that, in many cases, have been in existence for almost 1,000 years, that it should be a Labour Government who should ensure that the fight against feudalism and the striving for a classless society continue. I am delighted to accept the right hon. Gentleman’s amendment, and I trust that he will not withdraw it.

David Maclean: I am grateful to the Minister, both for his wise words, and for having the wisdom to make the right speech this afternoon. Naturally, I shall not withdraw the amendment, and I hope that we do not vote on it, as that is not necessary. I congratulate the Minister, at the close of our debate, on accepting the amendment. It is a long time since I have had an amendment accepted in the House, so I am slightly out of practice. I am grateful to the Minister for his kind words, but he should offer them not to me but to the Cumbrian Commoners Association, which is skilled and knowledgeable, because it has been dealing with commons for hundreds of years, and understands them. I am grateful that the Minister and his officials have listened to our point of view, and I assure him that we will not need to deal with the matter in the House for a considerable period. He has some flexibility available to him, but it he will be required to exercise his judgment only on rare occasions, and that is the way it should be.

Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 1


Authorised severance

Amendments made: No. 92, in page 36, line 9, after ‘include' insert ‘(a)'.

No. 93, in page 36, line 11, leave out ‘consent obtained' and insert—

‘(b) provision as to the circumstances in which consent may be regarded as having been obtained'.

No. 94, in page 36, line 11, at end insert—

‘( ) Provision referred to in sub-paragraph (5)(b) may include—

(a) provision for consent to be regarded as having been obtained if it is withheld unreasonably;

(b) provision for the circumstances in which consent is to be regarded as withheld unreasonably;

(c) provision for the resolution of disputes.'.-- [Mr. Michael Foster.]

Schedule 2


Rectification of mistakes etc under the 1965 Act

Amendments made: No. 95, in page 36, line 33, at end insert—

‘Non-registration of common land

1A (1) If a commons registration authority is satisfied that any land not registered as common land or as a town or village green is land to which this paragraph applies, the authority shall, subject to this paragraph, register the land as common land in its register of common land.

(2) This paragraph applies to any land which—

(a) was not at any time finally registered as common land
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or as a town or village green under the 1965 Act;

(b) is land which is—

(i) regulated by an Act made under the Commons Act 1876 (c.56) confirming a provisional order of the Inclosure Commissioners;

(ii) subject to a scheme under the Metropolitan Commons Act 1866 (c.122) or the Commons Act 1899 (c.30);

(iii) regulated as common land under a local or personal Act; or

(iv) otherwise recognised or designated as common land by or under an enactment;

(c) is land to which this Part applies; and

(d) satisfies such other conditions as regulations may specify.

(3) A commons registration authority may only register land under sub-paragraph (1) acting on—

(a) the application of any person made before such date as regulations may specify; or

(b) a proposal made and published by the authority before such date as regulations may specify.'.

Non-registration of town or village green

1B (1) If a commons registration authority is satisfied that any land not registered as a town or village green or as common land is land to which this paragraph applies, the authority shall, subject to this paragraph, register the land as a town or village green in its register of town or village greens.

(2) This paragraph applies to any land which—

(a) on 31 July 1970 was land allotted by or under any Act for the exercise or recreation of the inhabitants of any locality;

(b) was not at any time finally registered as a town or village green or as common land under the 1965 Act;

(c) continues to be land allotted as specified in sub-paragraph (a);

(d) is land to which this Part applies; and

(e) satisfies such other conditions as regulations may specify.

(3) A commons registration authority may only register land under sub-paragraph (1) acting on—

(a) the application of any person made before such date as regulations may specify; or

(b) a proposal made and published by the authority before such date as regulations may specify.'.

No. 96, in page 36, line 35, leave out sub-paragraph (1) and insert—

‘(1) If a commons registration authority is satisfied that any land not registered as common land or as a town or village green is land to which this paragraph applies, the authority shall, subject to this paragraph, register the land as common land in its register of common land.'.

No. 97, in page 37, line 30, leave out sub-paragraph (6) and insert—

‘(6) A commons registration authority may only register land under sub-paragraph (1) acting on—

(a) the application of any person made before such date as regulations may specify; or

(b) a proposal made and published by the authority before such date as regulations may specify.'.

No. 98, in page 37, line 35, leave out sub-paragraph (1) and insert—

‘(1) If a commons registration authority is satisfied that any land registered as common land is land to which this paragraph applies, the authority shall, subject to this paragraph, remove the land from its register of common land and register it in its register of town or village greens.'.


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No. 99, in page 38, line 1, leave out sub-paragraph (3) and insert—

‘(3) A commons registration authority may only remove and register land under sub-paragraph (1) acting on—

(a) the application of any person made before such date as regulations may specify; or

(b) a proposal made and published by the authority before such date as regulations may specify.'.

No. 100, in page 38, line 4, at end insert—

Buildings registered as common land

3A (1) If a commons registration authority is satisfied that any land registered as common land is land to which this paragraph applies, the authority shall, subject to this paragraph, remove that land from its register of common land.

(2) This paragraph applies to land where—

(a) the land was provisionally registered as common land under section 4 of the 1965 Act;

(b) on the date of the provisional registration the land was covered by a building or was within the curtilage of a building;

(c) the provisional registration became final; and

(d) since the date of the provisional registration the land has at all times been, and still is, covered by a building or within the curtilage of a building.

(3) A commons registration authority may only remove land under sub-paragraph (1) acting on—

(a) the application of any person made before such date as regulations may specify; or

(b) a proposal made and published by the authority before such date as regulations may specify.'.

No. 101, in page 38, line 6, leave out sub-paragraph (1) and insert—

‘(1) If a commons registration authority is satisfied that any land registered as common land is land to which this paragraph applies, the authority shall, subject to this paragraph, remove the land from its register of common land.'.

No. 102, in page 38, line 13, leave out from ‘was' to end of line 15 and insert

‘provisionally registered as common land under section 4 of the 1965 Act'.

No. 103, in page 38, line 28, leave out sub-paragraph (3) and insert—

‘(3) A commons registration authority may only remove land under sub-paragraph (1) acting on—

(a) the application of any person made before such date as regulations may specify; or

(b) a proposal made and published by the authority before such date as regulations may specify.'.

No. 104, in page 38, line 31, at end insert—

Buildings registered as town or village green

4A (1) If a commons registration authority is satisfied that any land registered as a town or village green is land to which this paragraph applies, the authority shall, subject to this paragraph, remove that land from its register of town or village greens.

(2) This paragraph applies to land where—

(a) the land was provisionally registered as a town or village green under section 4 of the 1965 Act;

(b) on the date of the provisional registration the land was covered by a building or was within the curtilage of a building;

(c) the provisional registration became final; and

(d) since the date of the provisional registration the land has at all times been, and still is, covered by a building or within the curtilage of a building.


29 Jun 2006 : Column 480

(3) A commons registration authority may only remove land under sub-paragraph (1) acting on—

(a) the application of any person made before such date as regulations may specify; or

(b) a proposal made and published by the authority before such date as regulations may specify.'.

No. 105, in page 38, line 33, leave out sub-paragraph (1) and insert—

‘(1) If a commons registration authority is satisfied that any land registered as a town or village green is land to which this paragraph applies, the authority shall, subject to this paragraph, remove the land from its register of town or village greens.'.

No. 106, in page 38, line 40, leave out from ‘was' to end of line 42 and insert

‘provisionally registered as a town or village green under section 4 of the 1965 Act'.

No. 107, in page 39, line 9, leave out sub-paragraph (i).

No. 108, in page 39, line 18, leave out sub-paragraph (4) and insert—

‘(4) A commons registration authority may only remove land under sub-paragraph (1) acting on—

(a) the application of any person made before such date as regulations may specify; or

(b) a proposal made and published by the authority before such date as regulations may specify.'. [Mr. Michael Foster.]

Schedule 5


Minor and consequential amendments

Amendments made: No. 109, in page 44, line 37 leave out ‘association' and insert ‘council'. — [Mr. Michael Foster.]

Schedule 6


Repeals

Amendments made: No. 110, in page 48, line 32, at end add—


‘PART 5


REPEAL RELATING TO VEHICULAR ACCESS

    Short title and chapter

    Extent of repeal

    Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (c.37)

    Section 68.'


Title

Amendment made: No. 111, in line 1, at end insert

‘; and for connected purposes'.— [Mr. Michael Foster.]

Order for Third Reading read.—[Queen’s Consent, on behalf of the Crown, and Prince of Wales’s consent, on behalf of the Duchy of Cornwall, signified.]

4.57 pm

Barry Gardiner: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.


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